Just lie low and follow my lead, dude. We’ll get this PlayStation 2 mod-chipped. You just gotta know the right people.

That’s exactly what I said. “Lie low,” I told my little brother. “We’ll get this PlayStation 2 mod-chipped.” That was yesterday, just before the weirdest experience of my short but eventful life.

So we went to the mall, but we avoided the main mall and instead drove across the parking lot to that strip mall out back. You know, the one with the liquor store and the massage parlor, with the little bitty used videogame dealership in-between. We walked toward the place with our collars up around our necks and our hats pulled down low, not because the winter breeze was so cold, but because we were on a secret mission. See, we wanted that special chip put into our PlayStation 2, the one that lets you play foreign or copied games. And you gotta know the right people to get it done.

The store was dark and it was filled with metal cages that had games hanging from them, kinda like backstage at a WWF brawl. The Asian kid at the front of the store was standing rigid behind the counter, looking really nervous. As we walked up, I saw his eyes dart down to the PlayStation 2 we were carrying in a plastic bag, and -- very subtly -- he shook his head “no.” I guess I didn’t understand the gesture.

I walked up, put the PlayStation 2 on the counter, and I said (in a whisper) “Dude, can you install a mod chip in here for me?”

Suddenly, all of the cages in the room shook as a loud crash roared from the back room. The Asian clerk dove behind the counter, weeping something in a language I didn’t understand. And then a balding man in a dark suit roared into the room, like the cat who caught the canary, and pointed one chubby, hairy-knuckled finger at me.

“AH HAH!” he roared, looking at me with hate-filled eyes brimming over large wire-framed spectacles. My jaw dropped. He looked ... so familiar ...

“OMG it’s DICK CHENEY!” my brother cried out, hiding behind me.

“That’s right,” the man snarled. “And you boys were about to perpetrate a crime against the American people. What exactly were you going to do with that modification chip? Let me guess: you were going to watch DVD movies encoded with a different regional code, weren’t you?”

“Well, sir actually we--”

“YOU WERE, Weren’cha? Let me ask you this: How on God’s green earth are large publishing conglomerates supposed to control your dollars if they can’t control what you watch and how and when? That’s downright un-American, son.”

“Actually,” I squeaked. “We just wanted to play import video games.”

“IMPORT VIDEO GAMES!” he stammered, pulling at what remained of his hair. “From JAPAN? Might I remind you how many of us DIED fighting those bastards? You know those games aren’t in English, don’t you? You know what else isn’t English? FOREIGNERS. You’re willing to SELL YOUR SOUL and your PRECIOUS FREEDOMS just for crisper graphics, better artistry, and intuitive gameplay? That’s pretty GOT-DAMNED un-American if you ask me. What you boys need is an X-box, big as a Ford Truck, something that charges you to play online and makes you buy a separate remote just to watch DVDs, that’s the ‘merican way.”

“Sorry Mister Cheney,” my brother and I said in unison, heads bowed.

But it was too late. “Thanks to your new and improved abbreviated constitutional rights,” he explained, pulling out a large sinister cell phone, “It’s now within my jurisdiction to remotely burn your house down.”

He pushed a few buttons on his cell phone, frowning with determination. Then, suddenly, the color drained from his face. Something had gone very wrong. The room fell deathly silent. Slowly, the Asian store clerk peeked up from over the counter, Kilroy-style, to see what was going on.

“...what’s the matter, Mr. Cheney?” my brother asked.

“I think I dialed the wrong number,” he said.

Victim Pic Small

Several miles away, a young man tried desperately to save his copy of WarCraft III from the searing fury of the flames that so unexpectedly had engulfed his home.

Score: 8.61; Total Votes: 2234 as of 2009-12-09.

An entire generation didn’t graduate from Clarion College in 1992 because I installed Civilization into the computer labs.

Anything less than third-degree burns is no reason to quit a perfectly good game of WarCraft III.

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